Originally created 10/24/06

La Russa believes smudge isn't dirt



ST. LOUIS - Tony La Russa kept talking about Kenny Rogers, his words from the interview room booming all around Busch Stadium, courtesy of the PA system. One by one, the Detroit Tigers stopped their workout to listen.

"I don't believe it was dirt," they heard the St. Louis manager say. "Didn't look like dirt."

A lot of baseball fans weren't buying Rogers' explanation, either. So instead of looking to Game 3 of the World Series, the focus Monday stayed on Game 2. Specifically, on what Rogers had at the base of his left thumb - and whether it was there before.

"We know it's all over the place right now," umpires' supervisor Steve Palermo said.

Some photographs from Rogers' start in the American League Championship Series against Oakland showed what appeared to be the same kind of smudge on his pitching hand that caught everyone's attention Sunday night.

Prompted by La Russa, the umpires asked Rogers to clean off his left hand before the second inning. He pitched eight shutout innings in a 3-1 victory that evened the World Series at one game each.

Rogers, who has gone from playoff farce to postseason force this October, said it was an innocent mistake.

"I rub up the balls between the innings and before the game all of the time," Rogers said Monday. "I rub up the bullpen balls I pitch with with mud, resin, spit. I do it all the time. They rub the ball up, too, with mud before the games.

"The game balls, they're dirty. Usually, when I get done, there's not much on my hand, but I guess a little bit more than normal. I wiped it off and proceeded to pitch seven pretty good innings," he said. "Mud, resin, sweat. It's always there. I try not to go crazy with it, but it's not making my pitches do anything crazy."

Later, it was La Russa's turn to have his say. His off-day news conference was piped over the Busch Stadium public-address system.

The first question was about Rogers, who has pitched 23 scoreless innings this postseason - after going 0-3 with an 8.85 ERA in previous postseasons.

La Russa's answer went on for five minutes.

He said the Cardinals were aware Rogers had a similar spot earlier in the postseason.

"If he didn't get rid of it, I would have challenged it. But I do think it's a little bit part of the game at times, and don't go crazy," he said.

TONIGHT


SERIES TIED,1-1


KEY TO GAME 2: Detroit left-hander Kenny Rogers shut out the Cardinals through eight innings, allowing only two hits.


GAME 3: Detroit (Robertson 13-13) at St. Louis (Carpenter 15-8), 8:33 p.m.


ANOTHER SMUDGE?


ST. LOUIS - Television replays from Game 3 of the Yankees-Tigers division series show a dark streak on Kenny Rogers' left hand that is similar to the one that appeared during the first inning of Sunday's World Series game.


According to several Yankees, however, there weren't any outward accusations of doctoring in the Yankees' clubhouse after Rogers dominated them over 7w shutout innings.

"I didn't hear anything like that at all," one player said.

- New York Daily News